A WHOLE NEW WORLD
HOW GOD WORKED A MIRACLE IN ME!
I heard from God for the first time when I was about 10 years old. I was going to church with my mom and dad just like we did almost every Sunday morning since we started going to a little Baptist church in Somerville, TN. One Sunday, during Sunday school, my sister, Amanda, and my cousin, Katheleen, went out to talk to the preacher about something. I asked the teacher what they were going to talk about, and she said that she thought they were going to talk about getting saved.
Later that morning, at the invitation, at the end of the worship service, Amanda and Katheleen went down front. I started crying. I wasn't sure why I was crying, but I knew something was wrong with me. I went down to the front, too. I was crying. I felt heavy. He led me through "the sinner's prayer". After a little while, I was baptized. I felt a little better, but nothing really changed in my heart. I had prayed that I knew I was a sinner, but I didn't KNOW I was a sinner. I thought I was okay. Nobody else had anything any different than me, so I thought I was "secure", but that sense of security soon left me. Every time a sermon was preached on the second coming or judgment, I would say that same prayer. I would try to "nail it down", "settle it once and for all". About a year later, the pastor left the church. My family also left not too long after he did. After that, we went to different churches here and there. Sometimes, we didn't go at all. I didn't really feel like we "fit in" at any of the churches. We ended up not really going regularly to any church.
In the next months, my family went through a bad time. My mom and dad had not been getting along, so they decided to separate. My dad stayed with his brother, Bennett, for a little while, and then he moved into a rental house in Arlington. We were all miserable during that time. My parents had filed for a divorce, and I thought our family was coming to an end. But then, one Sunday that my dad decided that he was going to take us kids to church. We went to Arlington Baptist Church. Everyone seemed really happy to see us. Little did I know that my dad had been there the week before, and he asked them to pray for our family! I told my dad after the service was over that I really liked it there. I didn't feel out of place at all. Amanda and Johnathan, our brother, felt the same way. We wanted to go back. Dad brought us home, and asked Mom to come with us next week. The next Sunday, Mom came to church with us, and we all went home together! We were all very happy that Daddy was moving back in! I was too young to realize then what had really happened, but God had put our family back together!! We joined Arlington Baptist Church within a few months, and we were there every time the doors were open. It looked like my life was all together again, but I still went through the same routine of praying "the sinner's prayer" every time I got scared or under conviction. I remember sitting in church and wondering, "What if God comes back, and we're all wrong?" I can't tell you the times I prayed at night, "Lord, if I'm lost, please save me", or "Lord, if I'm lost, please let me know. Give me some kind of sign". I didn't hear anything from God right then, but I know He heard me. When I was twelve, the pastor of Arlington Baptist left. We were without a pastor, but Mid-America Seminary sent one of their professors to be our interim pastor. During the eighteen months that he was there, we heard lots of preachers. One Wednesday night, our interim pastor was preaching, and I felt the tug to go down to the altar. I told the preacher that I thought I was saved when I was 10, but I realized now that I wasn't, and I needed to be saved. He led me through "the sinner's prayer", and announced to the church that I was saved. A couple weeks later, I was baptized, again. Still, I was faced with doubts and fears. They always seemed to hit me at night. I was confused and tried to tell myself I was saved, and everybody doubts. "It's just the devil trying to make me not believe in Jesus." I was wrong. It was Jesus trying to make me see I didn't believe in Him!
Later on that year, Bro Greg Moffitt came to fill in one Sunday. After that day, the pulpit committee decided to ask him to be our pastor. He had filled in one Sunday about a year earlier. The church voted unanimously to have Bro Greg come. Everyone felt like this was really what God wanted us to do. I knew there was something different about Bro Greg and Ms Janet, but I wasn't quite sure what it was. One thing was for certain, and that was the fact that they loved God! Bro Greg preached on examining yourselves for a while when he first came. He told us about true salvation, godly sorrow, and being born again. He and Ms Janet also shared their testimonies a lot with us. Bro Greg would always say that something inside said 'yes' the day that he got saved. He said the Holy Spirit was witnessing with what Bro Terry was saying, telling him that it was for him. I knew I didn't have that. I couldn't get away from the fact that God had made such a change in them!! They worshipped God like He could really hear them!! I remember one specific Wednesday night when Bro Greg was preaching for us to examine our salvation. He told us to really look at our experiences and ask God to show us if we're really saved or not. Something hit me right in the middle of his sermon, and I began to cry. I didn't know what was going on. I was sitting with the youth, and I didn't want them to think there was something wrong with me. I went to the bathroom to dry my eyes. Why was I crying? I had asked God to save me probably a million times! I shook it off and went back into the sanctuary. After the service was over, I didn't say anything to anybody. I tried to act like nothing had happened. Bro Greg just kept preaching, "Examine yourself to see Whether You Be in the Faith". I didn't want to examine myself. I knew I didn't have what he and Ms Janet had. One night after services, Ms Janet was talking to one of the ladies in the church about how new everything is after you get saved, and how good God is. Then, I knew, I did not know God. I started to cry, and I asked Ms Janet, "How do you get that?" She just hugged me and said, "God will help you."
Not too long after that, my mom got saved. The following July, Bro Charles Shipman came to preach a revival. By this time, I was sure I was lost. One night, during the invitation, I felt God calling me. I went down to the altar crying. One of the ladies in our church that was professed lost went down, and was crying beside me. Pretty soon, she was rejoicing!! I thought that she had gotten saved, and I was mad that God hadn't saved me! I talked to Bro Charles for a little while about it. He gave me several illustrations about faith, but I was really too mad to hear it. He finally just looked at me and said, "You want God for what He can do for you, and not for who He is." And it was true. God was telling me, through Bro Charles, what was wrong with me. I had to think on that for a while.
Grace Baptist Church, the church that Bro Greg came out of, was building a new building, and they asked if any of our members wanted to help. They said that the women of their church would be there, too, so anyone who wanted to come was welcome. I went with my mom and dad. It was good to meet other people who believed the same thing Bro Greg did. They were all so loving and happy! I met two girls my age that were in the same situation as me (lost). I was glad to know that there were people like me who were lost, but couldn't seem to find the way out.
Bro Greg told us about camp meeting at Bro Charles's church in West Helena, Arkansas. It was in August. I had band camp the same week of the camp meeting, but we came that Friday night. I felt so out of place, but something was keeping me there. I didn't want to be there, but I didn't want to leave. Everyone was worshiping, waving handkerchiefs (hankies), and shouting, and I felt so empty. Bro Charles asked if anyone needed to say anything. A guy about my age got up and asked the camp to pray for him because he was lost, and he needed God. So, everybody prayed for him. I didn't want to get up there and tell all these people that I didn't know that I was lost, but I felt like that was what God was telling me to do. I went up to Bro Charles and told him that I needed to ask the camp to pray for me. I told them I was lost, and I was sick of being lost. They prayed for me, and said that they would keep praying for me. A man at the camp gave me a hankie that the secretary of the camp had made. He said, "This is for you to wave after you get saved." The camp went on until late that night. The Lord was really moving in the people. They sang and worshipped late into the night. I wanted what they had so bad I could taste it. We had to go home the next morning, and I wished that we had just one more day to spend with the people of God. So, we went back home, and listened to Bro Greg tell us more about how God comes and quickens your heart, and you really do get born again! He told us every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night that salvation is a work of God. He told us to seek God with all our hearts. I really wanted God to talk to me. I wanted God to save me. After all, I had always been a pretty good kid! That was my problem. I didn't really see myself as a sinner! I tried to get myself under conviction. I tried to cry over who I was, but deep down, I was thinking, "I'm not really that bad." I was singing in church one Wednesday night, and a line in the song got to me. It said, "The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sin away". God was telling me that I was just as vile as the thief on the cross that asked God to remember him in paradise. I didn't want to hear that I was vile, but I didn't have an excuse. Even though I was outwardly good, I was still vile and needed saving just as much as that thief did. That was the heaviest I had ever felt God in my life! I felt like I needed to go to the altar, but I resisted, and God's presence left me.
In December of 1995, there was another camp meeting in Arkansas. I was excited about this meeting. I hoped that God would save me, or at least speak to me. Bro Charlie Barna got up and began to preach about how loving God is. He said that God doesn't just command for you to come to him. He's not the kind of God that forces you to come. He just tenderly calls you like you would call a child. Bro Charlie used the illustration of his own daughter. He said that he wouldn't command his two-year-old daughter to come to him. He would gently say, "Come here." He bent over, and began saying, "Come here" over and over. He was crying, and God was calling me, so sweetly to Him. I sat in my seat, trying to compose myself, but every time I heard those words, "come here", it broke my heart. I could feel God calling me. I went to the altar and began to cry. I didn't know what to do. All I could do was cry. Ms Janet sang "He'll Do It Again", and Bro Greg came to talk to me. He said, "When Jesus said 'It is finished' on the cross, He meant, 'It is finished for you'. Jesus has already died on Calvary for your sins. All you have to do is believe it and thank Him for it. Just repent and believe." I tried with everything in me to believe what Bro Greg was telling me, but I couldn't do it myself. As I sat there, struggling within myself to believe, God's presence slowly lifted off of me. I was so disappointed. I hadn't entered in. I had to leave lost, again. I felt like I needed to go down to the altar, but my pride wouldn't let me, so God left me. It was a while until God spoke to me again. I got scared. I asked Ms Janet what was wrong with me. She said God was probably just drawing back to make me want Him more. She said that I just needed to ask God to speak to me, and He would. So, I prayed for God to speak to me again. I didn't want Him to leave me where I was.
I went on for while just feeling a little conviction here and there. In March of 1996, Bro Charles was preaching a revival at a church nearby, so a group from our church went one night. The night that we went, Bro Charles was preaching about the fig tree that had no fruit. He was talking about how the owner wanted it cut down, but the husbandman asked the owner for just one more year before the owner cut it down. I was asking God to just give me one more year before He gave up on me. He told me that He hadn't given up on me. He's still at work. After that service, I talked to Bro Greg about where I was with God. Bro Greg told me that if I could have just believed in December, God would have saved me. He said I was close! That gave me hope! The following May, Bro Greg announced that we were going to have a meeting with Bro Terry, Bro Greg's pastor, the end of the week. Bro Terry would come and preach Wednesday through Saturday night. Just hearing that filled me with hope!! The meeting started on May 15. Bro Terry preached on listening to the man of God. Bro Greg had told my dad that God said that He was going to save my dad. I wanted to know if God had said anything about me. On Thursday night, Bro Terry preached on coming to God in truth. He was preaching about the woman who Jesus called a dog. He said whatever God tells you, just agree with that! Then, he asked if there were any Jews in the congregation. No one spoke up, so he said, "Good, you're all dogs" and went on with his message. Well, that stayed with me. I tried to stay and ask Bro Greg if God had told him anything about me, but he was busy with guests, and I told myself it would be rude to interrupt him. That night, on the way home, I told my dad that I didn't see myself as a dog. I cried most of the way home, because I wanted to be saved so badly, but I didn't understand how to get there. My dad told me that Bro Terry had told him if you get broken, and you try to figure out what's going on, God will leave. But, if you just let yourself be broken, God will work on you, because God works in brokenness. That helped me.
The next night, Friday, May 17, 1996, I walked in the church hungry for God. I had hoped that God was going to speak to me that night. As I walked in, I saw pamphlets and testimonies from Grace Baptist on the back table. I picked up a pamphlet that said, "Seeking God". I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be great if I didn't need this after tonight." Bro Terry preached that night on brokenness, and how God works in brokenness. He was telling us that we don't need to try to figure out what God's doing. We just need to agree with what He's saying. He used the scripture that says that if you cast yourself on the rock, He'll break you and save you, but if the rock falls on you, He will crush you into a fine powder. God was really heavy on me while Bro Terry was saying this. He was telling us how God wants to break you and save you, but you have to let Him break you. He said God can work in you to get you where you need to be, and how He does that is in brokenness. All during the end of his sermon, I was crying. I knew God was talking to me. He was calling me to Him again, but I had been down to the altar so many times that I didn't want to go just for the sake of going. I wanted to be sure this was for me. I prayed, "God, if this is for me, please have Bro Tim sing 'Today is the Day'." No sooner did I pray that, than Bro Terry looked over to Bro Tim Tutor and asked him to sing 'Greg's Song, Today is the Day'. When Bro Tim started singing, my heart began to really break. I knew God was calling me to Him!! There's a line in that song that says, "He's here today for you, and with loving arms, His darling one to save And for you, there's nothing more to do, than thank the Lord salvation's for you, too. Today is the day." God was telling me that, yes, I was a dog, but I was His darling, and He was calling me to Him!! I went down to the altar, and cried out to God. I didn't want anything but Him. As I was praying, He showed me things that I had put before Him, and I told Him, "I don't want anything, but you, God. I don't care what people think about me. I just want you." Bro Greg came over and told me that God HAD told him something about me! He said, "God told me that if you just believe Him that it's already done, and thank Him, He'll save you!!" He said, "When Jesus said 'It is finished' on the cross, He meant 'It is finished for you'." When he said that, I could feel the faith building in me. I had heard Bro Greg say that a hundred times, probably, but this time, it really WAS for me!!! He said, "It's already done. All you have to do is thank Him for it." And, somehow, God enabled me to see that the cross really was for me! I had heard the story all my life, but it was finally real to me and for me! Bro Greg said, "Just thank Him. It's already done." I can't tell you how it happened, but God helped me to believe that it really was done! I thanked Him for saving me, waving that hankie that had been given to me almost a year before!! I was blown away!! All I could do was sit there. Peace . It was finally over. Bro Greg came and asked me what I thought about it. I said, "Finally, something inside says, 'Yes'." He said, "That something is Jesus." And it happened again!! I was at peace, FINALLY! I have truly been born again! Everything was new! It was like I was in a whole new world!!!!!! Thank you, God for setting me free!!!!
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